Israeli soldiers killed, Wednesday dawn, a prominent Palestinian journalist, Al-Jazeera TV correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, and injured another journalist after targeting them with sniper fire when many journalists gathered to cover an invasion of Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.
Update: Dozens of soldiers and police officers invaded the home of the slain journalist in Beit Hanina, north of occupied Jerusalem.
The soldiers tried to intimidate the family and threatened to abduct them if Palestinian flags are raised at her funeral, but the Palestinians who gathered in the area managed to force the soldiers out of the property.
The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed that Shireen was shot with a live round in the head while wearing her press vest and helmet when an Israeli army sharpshooter fired one round at her.
The Ministry added that the soldiers first shot journalist Ali Sammoudi with a live round in the back, just as the journalists from various media agencies gathered in an open area in a clear line of sight from Israeli soldiers when the army committed its heinous crime.
Sammoudi, who was shot in the back, said that he, Shireen, and several other journalists gathered near a UNRWA-run school near Jenin refugee camp and were all wearing press vests and helmets before the soldiers shot him in the back and then shot Shireen with a live round in the head.
“The soldiers had a clear view of us. They knew we were journalists, yet, then deliberately targeted us with sniper fire,” Sammoudi said, “Nothing was happening there, no protests, no exchange of fire between the soldiers and the Palestinian fighters; they targeted us knowing we are all journalists – what they did was a crime and a deliberate attack.”
Al-Jazeera TV issued a statement denouncing the deliberate targeting of reporters, the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh, and the shooting of Ali Sammoudi.
Al-Jazeera said Abu Akleh was assassinated and was not by accident and added that eyewitnesses and other journalists, including Shatha Hanaysha, who was standing next to Shireen, revealed that the army killed Shireen before its snipers also pinned down Hanaysha and several journalists.
“We stood together in a collective way as journalists, then we started moving. We were shocked by the live ammunition fired at us, we reached an area that did not allow us to withdraw.” Hanaysha told Al-Jazeera.
“We were just facing the snipers. If they were not really willing to kill some of us, they could have started shooting before our arrival in this narrow area. I see this as a clear assassination of journalists,” she said.
“The one that killed Shireen was intended to kill her because he shot the bullet at an area of her body that was not protected,” Hanaysha also said.
The Al-Jazeera Media Network issues an official statement condemning the Israeli crime and holding the Israeli government and its occupation army responsible.
“Al Jazeera Media Network condemns this heinous crime, which intends to only prevent the media from conducting their duty. Al Jazeera holds the Israeli government and the occupation forces responsible for the killing of Shireen. It also calls on the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for their intentional targeting and killing of Shireen.”
“The Israeli authorities are also responsible for the targeting of Al Jazeera producer Ali al-Sammoudi, who was also shot in the back while covering the same event, and is currently undergoing treatment.”
“Al Jazeera extends its sincere condolences to the family of Shireen in Palestine and to her extended family around the world, and we pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and bring them to justice.”
Shireen was born in occupied Jerusalem in the year 1971; she hails from a Palestinian Christian family in Bethlehem. She lived in Jerusalem and, as a child, she studied at the Rosary Sisters School in Beit Hanina, in occupied Jerusalem.
She obtained her B.A. degree in journalism from Al-Yarmouk University in Jordan and returned to Palestine where she worked in various professions, including Palestine Radio, The UNRWA, Amman Satellite TV, Radio Monte Carlo, and in the year 1997, she started working for the Al-Jazeera News Agency.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the assassination of Shireen and the ongoing Israeli crimes against civilians, including Journalists.
Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh issued a statement mourning the killing of Abu Akleh and denouncing the Israeli crime. “She was killed while exposing the horrific Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people.”